Formula 1 is one of the most elite racing sports in the world, featuring 20 drivers in single-seat, open-wheel cars, travelling at speeds up to 223 miles per hour. F1 is not unknown to controversies (as anyone who watched the 2021 season finale will know too well), but most recently F1 has been in the news because of alleged car copying by Aston Martin.
Following a difficult start to the year, the Aston Martin F1 team brought an upgrade for its car to the Spanish GP. The upgrade had a very similar look to parts of the Red Bull car, raising a lot of eyebrows across the grid.
Aston Martin, previously Racing Point, has been accused of copying car designs in the past after starting the 2021 season with a car (lovingly nicknamed the Pink Mercedes) that looked incredibly similar to the previous year’s Mercedes car, which had won the world championship.
In that example, Racing Point gained a huge advantage, regularly finishing in the top 10 and scoring podiums. But ultimately, the team was found to have illegally copied the Mercedes car, and Racing Point was fined by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de L’Automobile, the governing body behind race events such as F1). So far Aston Martin has avoided any fines, with the FIA clearing the upgrades as legal.
Intellectual property in F1 has always been incredibly interesting to me, with my favourite intellectual property issue being the trade mark infringement proceedings against Haas F1’s former sponsor, Rich Energy.
Here, the key issue is whether Aston Martin has copied the design of the Red Bull car, which touches on various different aspects of IP:
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